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Bather

Painting, 1897, 52×36 cm
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Description of the artwork «Bather»

Bather belongs to an extensive series of nudes, which Zorn began in the late 1880’s. The artist’s interest in nudity was quite natural, since everyone knew of his passionate temperament. Paintings with bathers, which Zorn kept creating almost to the end of his life, were as popular as his portraits.
Though the beginning of the nude series coincided in time with the completion of Zorn’s formation as an Impressionist, the artist never left realistic painting, resorting to either of the styles, depending on his goals. But all of his bathers are invariably painted in an impressionistic vein (1, 2, 3, 4). Zorn’s lake nymphs are the embodied moments of pure hedonism, a fleeting mirage of dawn, and a sweet optical illusion.
The models posing for the artist say a lot about his taste in women: ruddy-faced, fair-skinned, having smooth feminine curves and impeccable health. The girls are disarmingly sensual and at the same time incredibly organic and even chaste in their natural nudity, which perfectly suits the pristine landscapes and desert waters.
At first glance, the Bather seems to be compositionally uncomplicated and sketched in a hurry. However, the apparent simplicity of Zorn’s works is the result of years of painstaking exercise with dozens of sketches having the same plot and its subsequent implementation in different techniques. Thanks to the artist’s skilful use of a brush and his firm, confident strokes, the canvas is completely devoid of statics. It’s amazing how Zorn managed to accurately convey the girl’s emotions, leaving only hints of her features on the canvas. The viewer clearly sees a flushed blush, a playful half-smile and crafty squinted eyes.
The trunk and branches of the tree seem to be painted with one continuous movement of the brush. Barely visible leaves and grass slightly sway from the wind; one can smell the heavy freshness of June. Try to look away from the picture. Do you also remember that the picture is full of sunlight? You will be surprised when you look at the Bather again and find just a few rather poorly lit areas.
In this relatively small canvas, there is the essence of the charismatic and life-loving Swede. With the same ease as he painted, the artist lived, drank, was fond of women and presented gifts to his beloved ones. A tree, a girl, a pond, just a few shades of brown, green and blue - but how much energy, light and graceful sensuality possesses this frivolous Bather!
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape, Portrait

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1897

Size: 52×36 cm

Artwork in selections: 13 selections

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